Unusual cocktail ingredients

You ever see something in a drink recipe that makes you think, “What da fug’s that doing in there?” I was poking through CocktailDB the other day and said just that very thing. A little background, though…

We had some egg whites left over after Jen made homemade pasta. Because the eggs were very fresh, I thought I’d use the whites for cocktails. So I searched CocktailDB for recipes with egg whites. I wanted to try something new, and not your usual gin fizz.

I came across a drink called the Fan Tan. Here’s the recipe on CocktailDB*:

Shake in iced cocktail shaker & strain

1 1/2 oz ginger flavored brandy
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 egg white
1 dash Tabasco sauce

Serve in a cocktail glass (4.5 oz)

The Tabasco, as you might imagine, caused my “da fug” moment. I googled around a bit and found another recipe on Mixology.com:


1 1/2 oz. Brandy – Ginger
1 dash Juice – Lemon
1 drop Tabasco
1/2 Egg – White


Shake with cracked ice; strain into chilled cocktail glass.

I started thinking about this. The only gingered brandy on the market that I know of is Canton, and its flavor profile already carries a hint of hot spice from the ginger. Used judiciously, the Tabasco should, I thought, complement that. The trick was going to be balancing the drink so that the Tabasco didn’t overwhelm it.

Fan Tan

photo by Jennifer Hess

I added it sparingly, stirring and tasting after each drop, until I had the balance I wanted. And I have to say, it worked out just as I thought it would. Jen didn’t even taste the Tobasco until I told her it was there, and even then, she had to roll the drink around in her mouth a bit before she noticed its subtle influence.

*I’m aware that my blockquote formatting is screwed; this version of WP seems to parse the HTML/CSS differently than the previous release, for some reason.


Gingered and smokin’

A few weeks ago, I received a review bottle of a product that’s been reintroduced to the American market (albeit in a reformulated recipe)–Canton Ginger Liqueur. I love ginger in all sorts of forms: I love the slices you get to clear your palate between bites of sushi; I love ginger beers and ales; and I love ginger as an ingredient in food and cocktails. So I was excited to accept an offer of Canton.

As soon as I got it home, I opened it and poured a dram into a small snifter. Both Paul and Jamie have already written about their bottles, and I find no fault with their tasting notes on the straight liqueur–ginger and honey with a note of vanilla.

Alone, it’s a really pleasant quaff, delightful as an after-dinner sipper. But the big question is, how does it mix? Gotta say, I’m still workin’ on that. The first thing I did was to follow Jamie’s suggestion and mix up a Debonair, using Oban for the scotch. Wow. That Gary Regan knows his shit; the Debonair is a great drink, both smoky and gingery.

Then I started experimenting to create something new. And at this point, I made some dumb mistakes. I won’t say what they were, but if you knew, you’d say, “WTF were you thinking?! Have moths eaten your brain?” Let it suffice to say that it’s pretty easy to bury the Canton’s flavor if it’s up against aggressive ingredients.

Finally, I hit upon a winner, a simple, if somewhat obvious, blend of cognac, Canton, vermouth, and lime.

  • 2 oz. cognac
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 3/4 oz. Canton
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth

Technique: Shake over ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass.

I’m curious to try a variation of that with rye.